I have two young sons aged 5 and 9. They are normal boys who admire and respect police officers and every time they see a police cruiser they are filled with awe. If there is one in the neighborhood, they want to say hello and when they meet them while visiting in New York City, they always questions them about chasing bad guys. Of course my boys are also wowed by the officer’s guns. They watch the Justice League and other cartoons where the Super Heroes defeat the bad guys as well as the old Westerns, like The Big Valley with horses and hats and Indians.
When they pretend play, it’s mostly cops/superheroes vs. robbers/bad guys in the backyard. It’s really quite humorous when they are “caught” or shot in a chase… particularly the action drama moments. Sometimes they play with their bright orange Western gun or they wear their cowboy belts and masks. My 5 year old even plays a good boy fairy with his wand who shoots and freezes or stings, or kills the bad fairies… which drives his older brother crazy and the neighborhood boys standing in confusion, but he sure gets the attention of the girls.
They love this play, and why not? They are boys and they understand the fact that the world is good vs. bad. What is sad is when I have to tell them they cannot play like this on the school playground or anywhere in school, including using their finger to pretend-shoot.
Honestly, what has this world turned into? My daughter at the age of 3 would have probably been suspended for making her favorite Lego guns. When she first started making it I had no idea what it was but she kept pointing it around and making “pew-pew” sounds; apparently she watched an episode of Charlie’s Angels and was playing a policewoman.
Should we not let children play with toy guns and teach them responsibility and the ramification of what happens in real life? Yes, these are toys and they are pretend-playing, but I would think this is also preparation for adult life to understand that these are real things that happen in real life. Just as some kids play doctor, or mommy, or daddy, or fireman… a preparation for the future.
In Hayward, California, Principal Charles Hill of Strobridge Elementary School will hold a
“Toy Gun Buyback Day” offering books and other prizes in exchange for toys guns. He said, “Playing with toy guns, saying ‘I’m going to shoot you,’ desensitizes them, so as they get older, it’s easier for them to use a real gun”. Really? I certainly do not agree. I believe my boys understand the gun is a weapon and at this point they are playing with toys, but one day when they grow older and decide to get one or become a police officer that uses one, they will understand that it is a weapon and they will be more responsible of the fact.
Ironically, the principal will also be offering fingerprinting and photos to be given to parents… As one editor of Rare online magazine said: “Great idea, bring in your kid to hand over his weapon, have a mug shot taken and get fingerprinted.”
Another recent overreaction in the news is about a boy named Hunter. When he was 3 years old, Hunter Spanjer, who is deaf, was told by his Nebraska school district to either change his name or change his signature in sign language. They said it went against the district’s zero tolerance policy of any instrument that looks like a gun. Seriously? What will they do, have him legally change his name—or take away his fingers? And of course we all know about the 7 year old boy who chewed his Pop Tart to look like a gun. I don’t know whether he picked it up and shot someone with it or a cafeteria worker looked at it and just “imagined” a shooting spree, but he was suspended two days for it.
What I wonder is, does any or all the above have anything to do with gun control legislation? I’m pretty sure most of the gun slaughters we’ve read about lately were grown-ups who were able to obtain those guns illegally and were plain insane or had an agenda. They knew the ramifications and responsibilities of what a gun does, that they can use it to kill. Unlike the grown-up monsters that choose to kill people, the children who are being punished for pretending and playing are innocent. Their rights to simply be children are being ignored—the right to shoot water out of a water gun on a hot day, to turn a Pop Tart into any shape they want… to pretend to be police men with respect for the law.
What law are these abuses and violations following, aside from the exploitation of the gun control lobby to push their agenda? Suspending children? That’s really helping. Instead, how about going out there and getting the bad guys–and leave the good ones alone!